Helping your children stay healthy this Halloween is easier than you may think! Try these Halloween treats from the holistic dentist professionals at Assure a Smile, and treat your trick-or-treaters without spoiling them with processed candies and sugar:
1) Display a Few Choices. The “healthy” snack alternatives listed below may not be appealing to all children. Remember to display all of the alternatives, and be ready to answer a few questions about these lesser-known goodies. For example, explaining that “dried fruit pieces” are really “yummy dried fruit snacks” will make children excited to try the all-natural alternative.
2) Offer Quarters! This year, offer trick-or-treaters the option of candy or Quarters. The average miniature candy bar costs between 15 and 20 cents, so offering a Quarter is an alternative that is both cost effective and healthy. A tip: Remember to wash and thoroughly dry your Quarters before the big night!
3) Dried Fruit Pieces. Dried pieces of fruit are a win-win for parents and children. For parents, they represent a snack that is high in vitamin content but low in refined sugar. For children, dried fruit pieces are sweet and very similar to the processed fruit snacks with which they are already accustomed (i.e. Fruit Roll-Ups, Gushers, and other gummy fruit snacks).
4) Granola Bars. Children love granola bars because they usually contain some of their favorite flavors: chocolate, peanut butter, marshmallows, and more! Granola bars are a great alternative to candy bars because they are low fat, low sugar, and moderately high in fiber.
5) Offer Cash Back! So far we’ve covered some great ways to keep the neighborhood kids healthier, but what about your children? Assure a Smile recommends offering your little trick-or-treaters a cash back program! Offer your children a penny, dime, or quarter for different types of candy they collect. Creating a “candy exchange” can be fun, and it is an excellent introduction to basic math skills, health awareness, and (for a few unlucky parents) negotiation skills!
After the Treats: A Halloween Hygiene Guide
There’s no better time to teach children about oral hygiene than Halloween. Children are treated with snacks at school, at home, and at other community events. This represents an opportunity for parents to help children understand that with good fortune (or candy) comes a need for appreciation. Though wonderfully delicious, children must be taught that candy can lead to a variety of health problems including tooth decay, gum disease, and even diabetes.
Assure a Smile offers the following recommendations to help parents teach children to responsibly enjoy candy:
1) Encourage sharing. Have your children pour their Halloween candy in a large bowl. Keep the bowl in a common area, like the kitchen, and encourage family members and guests to enjoy the candy over the coming weeks. This will help to prevent candy binges that may lead to poor eating habits and tooth decay.
2) Remember to brush. Remind children that it is important to brush their teeth after eating candy. Brushing is the best way to remove sugar and other starches from tooth enamel before it has the chance to develop into plaque.
3) Don’t forget to floss! Let’s be honest: Flossing is less than fun. Developing gum disease, though, is far less enjoyable than flossing each night. Communicate to children that flossing removes hard-to-reach food particles from between the teeth, and that flossing helps keep both teeth and gums healthy!
4) Drink plenty of water. Water is necessary for just about every primary body function, including digestion. Encouraging children to drink plenty of water will help them digest candy with proficiency. Moreover, staying hydrated decreases hunger and will hedge against those late-night “candy cravings.”